17 Jul Domkhar Barma, Ladakh: Is This Paradise?
Posted at 04:57h in South AsiaIs this paradise? In Domkhar Barma in Ladakh, the stone paths smell of wild mint over the heavy drinkable stream. It’s the only thing heard at night, under the stars, seen when walking along a houses’ garden–carrots, peas, tomatoes, spinach, barley, chard– to the drop toilet. Waste is turned into fertilizer to make vegetables grow, a difficult task in a high altitude desert where the sky is blue 330 days a year and the air is always cool in the shade. Under a large white tarp, strung to the rusted fence posts, twelve children learn at the government middle school. After morning prayers and a quick song and dance, they study from books, or the internet, only truly used for learning, as a generator must be turned on to use it. Over one year ago there were twice as many students here. Families with money choose to send their children to Leh, Jammu or as far as Delhi, big cities where mint is found in tea bags, vegetables in stores, and running water in bathrooms. The large cities threaten the Ladakhi culture as most youth will not want to return to the most isolated area of India, to a village with forty houses across the Pakistani line of control. English becomes a preferred language, as it is in places like Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh. English gives the greatest access to rights and opportunities, unless they want to farm, a skill that must be acquired in early adolescence.